Utter bliss. I am on the road again. My extended tour of several European countries has started in Istanbul and I’m going to write my diary here as I progress, although not every day because there is just so much to do and see.
I thrive on contrast. That’s why I made my way from Didim on the Aegean coast to Istanbul in my tried and trusted fashion of 12 hour overnight coach journey. Then…I arrived on foot, pulling my suitcase and touting my umbrella, as it is raining quite heavily, at the door of Istanbul’s most historical, emblematic and luxurious hotel: The Pera Palace of Orient Express fame. Any doorman of a 5 star hotel worth his salt wouldn’t lift an eyebrow and neither did this one. I have been lucky that the hotel has offered me a vastly reduced ‘press rate’ for my room, as otherwise my Eurotrip would have come to a screeching halt after a week or so.
But, I would have visited the Pera Palace anyway, I can’t get enough of the atmosphere and particularly the Orient Bar with its fabled glass dome where the likes of Agatha Christie, Greta Garbo, Ernest Hemingway and Jackie Kennedy among many others, used to sip their favorite drinks.
Given the weather, I restricted my foray into the surrounding area, i.e. Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi, two of Istanbul’s most famous sights in the fashionable Beyoglu district. No hardship there as such wonderful views as the following are within a short walking distance from the hotel.
You really can’t ask for more variety.
This afternoon I will have a swim in the hotel’s pool bathed in mystical blue light, have a meal in the evening in the Agatha Christie restaurant with its open kitchen and, given that I didn’t sleep a wink last night, turn in early to be ready for my flight to Venice tomorrow morning. Not a bad start, rain not withstanding but fortunately it isn’t as cold as I had feared.